Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BBB: Foxglove

I don’t think foxglove is an endangered garden plant, but I do sense some resistance to growing the usual, biennial, form from seed. Judging from the popularity of the 1-year-to-maturity “Foxy” foxglove, waiting two years for a flower is too long. I can understand, especially when the seeds are so hard to germinate!

I’ve had little success with foxglove seed (Digitalis x mertonensis). From my Winter 2005/6 sowing set, I had a yield of three plants. I was terribly disappointed because I love foxglove. They bring back memories of sunny hillsides in the woods, thick with rosy, flowering spikes. That they are terribly poisonous (but the poison is a medicine in small doses) only increases their allure. I like to pretend that if the apocalypse came, I could be a folk healer. (Alternatively, if I got sucked back in time like Claire of the Outlander novels, I could do the same.) Finally, who wouldn’t want to grow a flower that legend says the fairies sleep within?

I’m not sure why the seeds were so hard to germinate, but the plants have been tough. I levered the three survivors into shady nooks around the deck and they all survived the winter. The first has bloomed and the other two have pregnant bulges in the middle of their rosettes. Despite my trouble, I am try, try, trying again. I sprinkled an entire packet of seed directly over the earth along the NW side of the deck. No babies yet, but maybe next spring…

Germination: difficult!
Culture: easy
Form : ugly leaves, but a nice rosette form. Flowers are on a spike.
Scent : none
Color : shades of pink, purple, white

BTW – that’s a bee butt in one of the flowers.

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Blogger OldRoses said...

Thanks, Kasmira! You're the first gardener I've run across who also has trouble germinating foxglove. I always read how easy it is and I've had no luck until this year when I wintersowed it. And then the squirrels ate my seedlings. Except two. Shhhhhh . . . tey are hidden under some other plants and the squirrels haven't found them. Yet.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Herbs and Me said...

I don't have Fox gloves growing in my garden but I just love the look of them. They remind me of what would be near an old cottage.

What a wonderful post!


6:35 AM  
Blogger Marie (FKA Piana Nanna) said...

I love foxglove, but alhtough I have a lot of patience, I can't wait for biennials to get a start. My loss. YOurs are beautiful.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Entangled said...

I too had poor germination rates with foxglove. I thought maybe I just had a bad batch of seed. I got 2 plants from it last year, which bloomed a few weeks ago. This year, I got another 2 seedlings from the same batch of seeds. I read that they'll self-sow where they're happy, so I didn't deadhead the spent flower stalks. We'll see.

5:00 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Aw! I was imagining that it could be a fairy!
Oh well.

I love the foxglove flowers, and I even like the leaves, but I have never had luck growing these - even from nursery plants.

6:11 AM  
Blogger LostRoses said...

Love the bee-butt! I was going to say that's one of my favorite things about foxglove, that bees love to crawl inside them. Also I'm enamored of their cottage garden good looks.

I've never tried to grow them from seed, I just head to the greenhouse!

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:19 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I grow Monkshood for the same reason. Foxgloves are a rarity here - I have tried growing them from seed and have bought plants, but they rarely survive to their second year.

Like the new pic!

8:28 AM  
Blogger Sarah O. said...

Everyone else mentioned the foxglove, but I just have to mention Diana Gabaldon. I reread those books every summer, they never lose their charm (although I do skip over the modern-day parts of DIA, V, and DofA). Much like foxgloves, eh? I had to tie it in somehow.

Just came across your blog via Gardenrant, but I will definitely be back.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you have cats, and because I like to work myself up into a panic about planting things, and keeping my cat (as rude as he is) safe I thought I would pass some information along.

Foxglove, is also potentially fatal to a cat if eaten. Not only is the entire foxglove plant toxic, so is the water from the vase if the plant is cut and brought indoors.

If your cat ingests foxglove, it may begin to vomit and salivate excessively. Its pulse may become slow and strong early after ingestion, then later become rapid and weak. Ingestion of foxglove causes cardiac disturbance that can lead to hypotension, collapse, and shock, which can ultimately lead to death. (More on how to treat shock in your cat will be discussed later). The pupils of your cat may become dilated after eating foxglove and you cat may become delirious before slipping into a coma. While some of the symptoms of foxglove poisoning can be treated at home, your pet still needs to be taken to the vet to flush the foxglove out of its system and to help regulate its heart.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Adi said...

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8:12 AM  

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